IWC calls for creation of new whale sanctuary

Mindy Sparks
September 16, 2018

An effort to create a safe haven for whales in the South Atlantic was defeated at the meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Florianopolis, Brazil.

As a Japanese proposal in 2014 to resume commercial whaling was also rejected, this time Tokyo called for easing the IWC decision-making rules.

Japan's vice-minister for fisheries Masaaki Taniai said he regretted the vote's outcome, and threatened to leave the 89-member organization if progress could not be made towards a return to commercial whaling.

Antigua and Barbuda Commissioner Deven Joseph robustly dismissed the host country's resolution as "a non-binding, irresponsible, abnormal, inconsistent, deceptive and downright wrong resolution".

"They can take this organization and send it to the abyss where whales go when they die!"

Instead, they are backing a Japanese counter-proposal that envisages "co-existence" between commercial whaling and conservation. "It is in this context that Australia can not support any move to resume the practice of commercial whaling".

"This morning I had a sense of hope and a feeling of euphoria with the widespread support given to aboriginal subsistence whaling, but this resolution brings home that there is a major and serious division in the IWC", said St Vincent's Commissioner Edwin Snagg. But Japan restarted two years later, reducing its quotas.

Gales told the meeting that given "the manner and rate" of Japan's lengthy proposal to the Commission, it was hard to escape the conclusion that the presentation had been "designed and bought forward with the intent and in the clear knowledge it will fail".

On Wednesday, pro-whaling nations at the IWC's biennial meeting blocked an attempt to create a whale sanctuary in the South Atlantic.

New Zealand's Commissioner Amy Laurenson, speaking in favor of the sanctuary, told the meeting it was about protecting whales, "not about determining the outcome for other areas of the world".

The result perpetuates a decades-old deadlock between pro- and anti-whaling sides at the IWC.

It ran counter to what U.N. Member States agreed with the Sustainable Development Goals, "to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development".

Patrick Ramage, of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) said Thursday's declaration was "a big win for whales and a clear signal of intent; the majority of government members recognize that conservation and whale protection is the?way forward?, not unnecessary and cruel whale killing. The whaling nations have not moved on".

"If this proposal fails, it is likely that the failure will be as much based on the manner in which the proposal was delivered to the commission, its legal irregularities and the unworkable procedural changes it proposed as on differences in fundamental positions on commercial whaling", he said.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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